CMSAF visits Andrews, discusses Air Force issues

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kat Lynn Justen
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
More than 900 Airmen from Joint Base Andrews gathered to hear the Air Force perspective from the highest ranking enlisted Airman.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy spoke to JB Andrews Airmen about joint readiness, deliberate development and building resiliency during an enlisted call here Nov. 1.

During his speech, Chief Roy stressed the importance of Airmen being ready for the joint and coalition fight.

"(Joint operations are) the way we work; that's the way we do combat," he said. "Therefore, we should be training with them."

Although there is no plan for a joint Basic Military Training, he said, Airmen already train with other branches of service during technical schools and professional military education. In fact, some Airmen are already fulfilling their Senior NCO Academy requirement at the sister service academies as well as coalition partner courses.

With a diversity of talent in the total force, Chief Roy stressed the need to match Airmen with the right responsibilities and the importance of deliberate development.

"We have to have the right person in the right place at the right time," he said.

The current process for enlisted assignment selection is managed by Air Force Personnel Center officials and is based mostly on eligibility as opposed to specific qualification.

"We are looking at a different way of managing this enlisted talent," Chief Roy said. "We are taking on five (Air Force specialties) here real soon, and we're going to have a developmental team where we can vector folks to the right assignments, the right education and the right training," 

While AFPC officials will still select the assignments, deliberate development uses an Airman's experience, education and training to recommend assignment options. The chief asked for patience as the process is developed, as it may take five to 15 years for the assignment selection process to change.

Additionally, there are steps laid out to close the 10-year gap between Airman Leadership School and the NCO Academy, he said.

Chief Roy also touched upon an issue that hits home to many military members and their families. In 2009, 84 active duty, reserve, guard and civilian Airmen took their own lives.

This year, the Air Force has already encroached on that number, and there are still two months remaining. For this reason, the chief decided to address the issue of suicide head-on and meet a very serious goal: saving lives.

"One of the most fundamental things we do as an Air Force is take care of our people," he said. "One (suicide) is too many."

Acknowledging the two main causes of suicide as relationships and finances, Chief Roy asked the crowd for their help.

"We need to look out for each other," he said. "Do you go up to people? Do you talk to people? Do you see them eye-to-eye? Do you see how they're doing? Do you ask them how they're doing? How's their family doing ... or are they in isolation?

"And, when you ask people how they are doing, mean it," Chief Roy said.

He brought to light the use of chaplaincy services, enrichment seminars, and single Airmen programs as examples that can help Airmen with relationship and financial issues before they lead to suicidal thoughts.

Giving the people the tools for handling adverse situations before they need it is what resiliency is all about, he said.